In a world increasingly reliant on digital technologies, access to digital literacy and employment opportunities is crucial for people of all ages. Yet, older adults, often overlooked in discussions about technology, face unique challenges in navigating this digital landscape. Recognizing this disparity, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) has been actively working to bridge the digital divide, ensuring that older Americans have access to opportunities to earn new digital skills and valuable work experience.

The SCSEP program targets job seekers aged 55 or older who are economically disadvantaged, providing them with on-the-job training experiences at nonprofit and public facilities. This initiative not only helps participants gain new skills but also serves as a bridge to finding employment opportunities outside of the program. As Jonathan Smith, Program Director with AARP Foundation SCSEP Program, emphasizes, “Digital literacy is crucial in today’s technology-driven world.” The program equips older adults with essential skills to navigate the digital landscape, covering topics such as basic computer skills, internet usage, online safety, and job application processes.

One shining example of the impact of SCSEP’s digital readiness initiatives is Mabeline White-Holland, who underwent training under the mentorship of Carol Meyers at KC Digital Drive. Reflecting on her experience, Mabeline expresses the significance of the skills she acquired, stating, “These skills that I learned here are gonna be needed regardless of where I go.”

Jonathan Smith elaborates on the program’s comprehensive approach to empowering older adults in their digital journey, emphasizing the importance of empathy and patience in supporting participants as they learn. From navigating online job applications to adapting to technology-intensive aspects of daily life, the program provides tailored support to meet the diverse needs of older adults.

Employers are encouraged to recognize the value that older workers bring to the table, including their diverse perspectives, knowledge, and skills. The perceived technology gap among senior job seekers can be overcome through equitable access to digital readiness programs, employment services, and supportive environments.

By partnering with organizations like KC Digital Drive, AARP SCSEP is making significant strides in ensuring that older adults have the resources and support they need to thrive in today’s digital world. Through these collaborative efforts, we can work toward creating a more inclusive and empowered society for people of all ages.

As AARP Foundation continues to advance effective solutions to reduce poverty for and with older adults, it’s essential for individuals, businesses, and communities to join forces in closing the digital divide and creating opportunities for all. To learn more about AARP Foundation and its initiatives, click here.

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